Last month I attended the IBM Power Systems Technical University. I was part of one session that featured IBM executives, IBM employees, and IBM Power Champions discussing different issues around the Power systems ecosystem.
First we went around the room and introduced ourselves. Now, most of us have a quick "elevator pitch" to explain who we are, what we do and what makes us such interesting and wonderful people. Being a consultant, these introductions can be important. For me, displaying the right combination of credibility and likability in these instances can help open doors and spur the people that I talk with to invite me into their organizations to help them make decisions involving their computing environments.
In the session I mentioned something about starting out on the AS/400 and working with that system for 10 years. I talked about my past employment with IBM and working on AIX, and noted my current position with Meridian IT. I added that I'm a Certified Advanced Technical Expert (CATE), a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and an all-around swell person.
I didn't bring up any hobbies or anything I do and enjoy outside of work. I didn't say where I was from, why I love living there or where I plan to go for my next holiday. I didn't mention my dreams or aspirations.
Would anyone have been interested if I had? Perhaps so. At this same conference, a lot of us were talking about the keynote session, because of the speech given by Jeff Jonas.
Read his bio, and you'll see that Jeff is chief scientist of the IBM Entity Analytics group and an IBM Distinguished Engineer. He has many impressive professional accomplishments, and he spoke of his work experiences. When he was introduced, it was mentioned that he has participated in numerous Ironman triathalons over the years.
His material was excellent. Through his storytelling and use of humor, he simplified the technical concepts. His style of presentation was a pleasant change from what many of us have come to expect from technologists at conferences like these. Walking out of that room, you felt like you really understood the projects he was working on. But others I talked to who were there found his personal story just as memorable.
When you think about it, you probably know several people who are really passionate about a sport, a hobby or a subject. I know someone who competes at a very high level in bowling. I've met people who enjoy flying planes, who are martial arts experts, who collect and shoot firearms. I know people who run marathons, and people who love sailing. And every single one of these people works in IT.
That's the thing. Our jobs are important to us, and a lot of us are very passionate about what we do. Still, we're not defined by our jobs. The things we do outside of work are an even bigger part of our identities.
As they say, when you're on your deathbed, you won't be wishing you'd spent more time at the office, but you might be regretting that you didn't spend more time sharing with your loved ones and pursuing your passions.
Working in IT is just one of many things that makes us who we are. Although we may enjoy our time in the technology field, many of us do impressive things outside of work. When you introduce yourself, do you stick to the resume, or do you also bring up your other interests? Perhaps I should revisit my elevator pitch.